Delayed Kyoto (Summer School) Exchange to Modesto Just Around the Corner

The Kyoto Gakuen students who were supposed to come to Modesto for summer school six months ago are due in the last week of February. They will be here before we know it. This visit is long overdue, and just in under the wire (or their graduation). Their summer school plans had to be scratched due to their government’s ban on student travel to the United States this past year due to the Swine Flu outbreak (the ban was put in place prior to any cases of swine flu hitting Japan).

I never got to post the pictures from their administrator’s visit to Modesto this past May to apologize for the cancelling of their trip. This blog post will now cover that visit and the rescheduled exchange for these KG students.

Both the Principal and Director of the ICT Program flew out to personally deliver their apology to our district after the summer exchange was cancelled. They spent a full day travelling to schools, the district office and meeting with students and parents from last year’s exchange to Kyoto (as several of them were going to host students from Kyoto). Amazingly they flew all the way out and back inside of three days.

Here Principal Sasai gives a formal speech explaining the reasons for the cancellation of the summer school exchange of Kyoto students to Modesto due to the Government ban on travel to the United States by student groups.

Mr. Cornwell looks on in disappointment as Principal Sasai delivers his address to the assembled students and parents. We were all very disappointed with this news, and feared that these students may not be able to visit Modesto before their senior year finished in March 2010 if the ban was not lifted. This was a serious set-back to our third summer school exchange as part of the PacRimX program.

After the Principal spoke, Mr. Kuromiya (Director of ICT Program) showed the students and parents a newspaper from Japan covering the Swine Flu outbreak and how Japan was attempting to keep the infection out of their country.

My Kuromiya has been personally involved with the exchange program between our two schools for over twenty years, and has been very closely involved with getting both Kyoto and our Modesto student exchanges restarted after years of no travel after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on the US. After Mr. Kuromiya’s address to the students and parents it was very clear to everyone that they had no choice in this matter, and that their government was taking actions that impacted the planned summer school exchange that were far out of any of our control. It was also very clear that everyone involved was very sad about this development.

Unfortunately, the first cases of Swine Flu to enter Japan came from a student group that had stayed in the Michigan area and passed through Canada on their way back to Japan. These students were quarantined and the news broke that Japan had their first cases. This did not however change the fate of the summer school exchange as the ban was kept in place.

Because of a strong desire from both schools to get these Kyoto Gakuen students to Modesto for a three week exchange and joint multimedia class, alternate plans were made for a late February and early March visit. Joint multimedia classes with both Kyoto and Modesto students will be held in the afternoons after regular school is out. The program will be run by Mr. Cornwell and the Kyoto teachers travelling with the students to Modesto. And, as with the summer school exchange, we will be conducting three field trips during their visit. They produce a multimedia DVD in teams to take home from their trip.

One trip will be to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Aquarium has always been very generous and have always provided us with complementary tickets to visit their amazing aquarium. We can only spend a few hours at the aquarium because we have a tight schedule of locations to visit in the Monterey area, but the aquarium is always a favorite of the students (as are the souvenirs they take home with them).

As we did this past October, we will be going to Yosemite. We are hopeful that snow will not prevent our visit to Yosemite, as snow is the only thing that will keep this group from a winter visit to Yosemite. They’ve been warned how cold it will be and to bring winter clothing. All of the valley floor businesses are open year round.

And new to this year’s schedule we will be going to the San Francisco Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I was just there this past week visiting the King Tut Exhibit at the De Young Museum (just across from the Academy) and snapped this picture of the Academy.

You may not be able to see it, but a very long line winds its way out of the museum and all the way off the left edge of this photo. It is still a very popular attraction in Golden Gate Park a year after reopening after a major remodel. Also visible in this picture is the living roof of the Academy with skylights on the right that open up to the rain forest area of the museum just below.

Here’s a picture that was taken last April, the day before we left Kyoto to come back to Modesto. At this time we thought we would be seeing our friends from Kyoto in Modesto for Summer school a short three months later. Little did we know it wouldn’t be until ten months later that they would finally be visiting Modesto.

This picture shows last year’s exchange students with the Kyoto students and teachers coming here in February. This visit is long overdue and we are thankful that they will finally get their exchange. They graduate weeks after returning to Kyoto, and will be gone before our April exchange to Kyoto. The new school year kicks off the day after we arrive in Kyoto this April (we will be participating in both the welcoming and opening ceremonies for the new school year.

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